Advocates, Directly Impacted Communities Organize National Week of Action to End Southeast Asian Deportations

Actions spanned 15 cities across the country

Nationwide– This week, impacted communities, social justice and advocacy organizations, and other allies across the country wrapped up a national week of action to support Southeast Asian American communities as they are terrorized by policies of mass incarceration and deportation. The week of action, which spanned 15 cities across the country, commenced shortly before Martin Luther King Jr. Day to remember the three evils – racism, militarism, and poverty – that still plague our country. 
The Southeast Asian American community is the largest refugee community ever to resettle in America, following the mass persecution and genocide during the Vietnam war, the Khmer Rouge-orchestrated genocide in Cambodia, and the mass bombing of Laos. Organized in response to one of the largest Southeast Asian deportation flights in US history in December, the week of action took place in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington state, and included a variety of rallies, teach-ins, community forums, documentary screenings, and digital actions. More than 6,000 people participated in countrywide events during the week of action.
“When my father was picked up by ICE, we were ready to prepare for the worst while praying for the best. It’s not easy knowing my father could miss big family events like birthdays, graduations, and weddings. Without my father, nothing would be the same,” said Natiya Pham, 18, who shared her family’s story at with approximately 70 community members and advocates at a teach-in organized by SEAC Village and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. Natiya’s father was arrested and detained by ICE during one of the first raids under the Trump Administration and is currently facing the threat of deportation.
Other participants in the National Week of Action to End Southeast Asian Deportations expressed the following:
“Deporting our community members doesn’t make things better in our community. It creates more suffering and causes more harm. We should be helping our community to heal, not creating more trauma. Make a difference. Keep our families together!” – Borey “PJ” Ai, member, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, participant in  Sacramento, CA, action
“My brother is living in fear with an order of removal. We are refugees. We are strong and resilient; we fled from a US-backed war only to be resettled in an America of racial inequity, failing schools, and mass incarceration. We are survivors of a war we didn’t choose – a war that the US fought on our parents’ soil with boots and bombs. We are here because you were there.” – Theary Voeul, member, Providence Youth Student Movement, participant in Bristol County, MA, action
“Thank you to the communities and the elected officials who supported us to prevent unjust deportations of Southeast Asians refugees. Many of us had paid our debts to society and also received lifetime ICE supervision. Since our releases from prison decades ago, we have committed to live law-abiding lives and become contributed community members. Targeting us now for deportation is both cruel and inhumane. The practice of family separation leads to human rights violations to our spouses and children, who are victims of this deportation push. We call for mercy and reconsideration for Southeast Asian refugees who made decades-old mistakes and are now in deportation limbo. America is our home.”  – Tung Nguyen, impacted, California
“Dr. King’s radical legacy impacts us all today, and we’re indebted to his leadership. In one of his most unpopular stances toward the end of his life, MLK stood against US war and militarism in Southeast Asia and connected racism and oppression abroad and at home. At the Reclaim MLK march, Asians 4 Black Lives marched with a 40-foot banner in the shape of a dragon detailing the history of Southeast Asian communities, implicating US roles from war to deportation.” – Sarah Lee, Community Advocate, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, participant in Oakland, CA action
Local and federal elected officials also joined in solidarity with the Southeast Asian American community.
Participating in a Twitterstorm hosted by the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center was Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), who also led a Congressional sign-on letter expressing concern over attempts by the Trump Administration to renegotiate a repatriation agreement between Vietnam and the United States:

Rep. Cedric Richmond (LA-2) and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus weighed in as well.
The National Week of Action to End Southeast Asian American Deportation was organized by APIRISE, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW), Asians & Pacific Islanders Re Entry of Orange County (APIROC), CAIR Texas-Houston, Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (FIGHT), Khmer Girls in Action, Mekong NYC, Montagnard Dega Association, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Atlanta,  Providence Youth Student Movement, ReleaseMN8, SEAC Village, Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA), Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (VietAID), VietLead, VietRISE, and VietUnity-SoCal.

Contacts

Asian Americans Advancing Justice:
James Woo, (404) 585-8446, jwoo@advancingjustice-atlanta.org
Michelle Boykins, (202) 296-2300 x0144, mboykins@advancingjustice-aajc.org
Jessica Jinn, (213) 241-8817, jjinn@advancingjustice-la.org
Brandon Lee, (773) 271-0899 x200, blee@advancingjustice-chicago.org
Christina So, (415) 848-7728, christinaso@advancingjustice-alc.org

Asian Prisoner Support Committee:
Ben Wang, ben@asianprisonersupport.org

Empowering Marginalized Asian Communities:
Thear Chum, thearchum@gmail.com

Southeast Asian Freedom Network:
Sarath Suong, (781) 534-1580, sarath@prysm.us

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center:
Elaine Sanchez Wilson, (202) 601-2970, elaine@searac.org

Vietnamese Anti-Deportation Network:
Nancy Nguyen, (281) 635-3088, nancy.nguyen@vietlead.org

Organizations Across the Country to Launch National Week of Action to End Southeast Asian Deportations

 
Impacted communities, refugees, social justice organizations, and allies denounce the unjust  detention and deportations terrorizing families
Nationwide–Starting on Saturday, January 19, impacted communities, social justice and advocacy organizations, and other allies across the country will launch a national week of action to stand with Southeast Asian American communities as they continue to be terrorized by policies of mass incarceration and deportation.
This week of action, which spans 15 cities across the country, is on the heels of one of the largest Southeast Asian deportation flights in United States history and coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In honor of Dr. King’s memory, we call on our country to remember the three evils – racism, militarism and poverty – that continue to devastate and divide Southeast Asian communities and all Black and Brown communities.
WHAT: National Week of Action to End Southeast Asian American Deportation
WHEN: January 19-27, 2019
WHERE: Events will take place in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington. Additional information is available here.
WHO:  APIRISE, Asians 4 Black LivesAsian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-ALC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW), Asians & Pacific Islanders Re Entry of Orange County (APIROC), CAIR Texas-Houston, Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (FIGHT), Khmer Anti-deportation Advocacy Group of WAKhmer Girls in Action, Mekong NYC, Montagnard Dega Association, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Atlanta, Providence Youth Student Movement, #ReleaseMN8SEAC Village, Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA), Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (VietAID), VietLead, VietRISE, VietUnity-SoCal
WHY: Since 1998, more than 16,000 Southeast Asian Americans from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have been issued orders of deportation. The vast majority of these immigrants and refugees live in the United States in a perpetual state of limbo, constantly under the threat of detention and deportation. The U.S. government’s efforts to tear apart these communities has become increasingly aggressive under the Trump Administration and include the imposition of visa sanctions on Cambodia and Laos and continuing pressure on the Vietnamese government to disregard a 2008 agreement that protects thousands of Vietnamese refugees from deportation. These efforts led to unprecedented numbers of Cambodian and Vietnamese Americans being detained and deported in 2017 and 2018. And the Administration is expected to continue to push its aggressive and inhumane agenda against Southeast Asian American communities in 2019.
The Southeast Asian American community is the largest refugee community ever to resettle in America, following mass persecution and genocide during the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge-orchestrated genocide, and the mass bombing of Laos.
During this week of action, we stand in solidarity with all immigrant and refugee communities devastated by incarceration and deportation. We call on local leaders to enact policies that protect immigrants and refugees in their own cities and states and to speak out against the federal Administration’s ongoing attempts to criminalize, scapegoat, and demonize those communities. And we call on Congress to champion policies that celebrate refugee and immigrant resilience, reject attempts to divide immigrant communities into “good” or “bad,” and demand that our laws treat people humanely and in consideration of each individual’s unique story and family situation.
Contacts
Asian Americans Advancing Justice:
James Woo, (404) 585-8446, jwoo@advancingjustice-atlanta.org
Michelle Boykins, (202) 296-2300 x0144, mboykins@advancingjustice-aajc.org
Jessica Jinn, (213) 241-8817, jjinn@advancingjustice-la.org
Brandon Lee, (773)271-0899 x200, blee@advancingjustice-chicago.org
Christina So, (415) 848-7728, christinaso@advancingjustice-alc.org

Asian Prisoner Support Committee
Ben Wang, ben@asianprisonersupport.org

Empowering Marginalized Asian Communities
Thear Chum, thearchum@gmail.com

Southeast Asian Freedom Network:
Sarath Suong, (781) 534-1580, sarath@prysm.us

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center:
Elaine Sanchez Wilson, (202) 601-2970, elaine@searac.org

Vietnamese Anti-Deportation Network:
Nancy Nguyen, (281) 635-3088, nancy.nguyen@vietlead.org

Administration Escalates Attacks on Southeast Asian Families Before the Holidays

114* federal, state, and local leaders join community groups to denounce deportation efforts

Washington, DC–Elected leaders across the country are joining grassroots and community-led efforts to demand justice publicly for Southeast Asian refugees dealing with the uncertainty and terror of deportations right before the holidays. 

Yesterday, between 35 and 40 Cambodian American community members were deported. Without an emergency gubernatorial pardon from Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington and last-minute legal avenues of relief secured by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, the number of individuals facing deportation would have been 46 — the largest group to ever face removal in one sweep. In addition, community members anxiously await the outcome of a recent meeting between the Vietnamese and US governments to renegotiate a long-standing bilateral agreement protecting Vietnamese refugees who arrived in the United States prior to 1995 from deportation. While it was reported that the Trump Administration would reinterpret the agreement, the Vietnamese government ultimately decides if it will issue more travel documents to allow for more deportations. The majority of individuals impacted by these attacks are refugees with decades-old convictions for which they have already served their sentences. Many are now integral members of their communities and support US citizen families.
This escalated enforcement inspired more than 50,000 individuals to sign on to public petitions and mobilized action from local groups across the country in a matter of days, including efforts to halt the flight leaving for Cambodia and a highly publicized rally in Little Saigon, in Southern California. Additionally, the following federal, state, and local leaders answered our call to send letters to the White House, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the State Department to condemn the Administration’s unjust treatment of refugees:
  • Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-7) led a congressional letter signed by 55* members of the House expressing opposition over the detention and deportation of all Southeast Asian refugees. The letter also highlighted their concern over the Administration’s efforts to force Cambodia and Laos to accept back Cambodian, Lao, and Hmong individuals, urging the use of “prosecutorial discretion to ensure that finite resources are not being wasted to tear families apart and deport individuals who have tranformed their lives.”
  • Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) led a separate letter signed by 26 members of the House expressing opposition to any negotiations that remove protections for pre-1995 Vietnamese refugees. In addition, the letter stressed that “the terms of the MOU recognize the complex history between the two countries and the dire circumstances under which hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese fled to the US to seek refuge from political persecution in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.”
“We condemn the Trump Administration’s inhumane efforts to deport Cambodian community members right before the holidays, and we denounce the US government’s ongoing effort to change its historical interpretation on the ability to deport Vietnamese refugees,” said Quyen Dinh, executive director of SEARAC. “However, we are heartened at the outpouring of support for our communities from individuals and elected officials across the country. It shows that there is more political will and power than ever before to find a solution to this crisis. Our country can have no more unjustified deportations of Southeast Asian refugees. We remain vigilant and are hopeful that the 116th Congress will bring a real pathway to freedom for our families.
“Our communities are devastated by the relentless attacks on our Cambodian and Vietnamese families,” said Sina Sam, commissioner at the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, and a community organizer with Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (FIGHT) and the Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN). “The rampant ICE arrests within our neighborhoods and increased deportations of our family members before the holidays is espesically hearbreaking. But our communities are resilient and strong. We are coming together like never before to mobilize and organize to reunite and keep our families together.
“This Administration’s recent tactics to deport more Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees are part of a long and ongoing effort to terrorize our Southeast Asian communities,” said Phi Nguyen, litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. “While our communities have long been fighting to keep their families together, we are pleased that our elected leaders are stepping up to speak out against the cruelty of this Administration’s detention and deportation policies. We hope that this is only the starting point for a meaningful discussion on how they can help fix our broken immigration system.
*Number to date
Contacts
Elaine Sanchez Wilson
(202) 601-2970
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
elaine@searac.org

Phi Nguyen
(770) 818-6147
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
pnguyen@advancingjustice-atlanta.org

Press Release: New Toolkit to Fight Detention and Deportation Authored and Inspired by Impacted Southeast Asian American Families

The #ReleaseMN8 campaign, together with the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), and the University of Minnesota James H. Binger Center of New Americans, today launches the Southeast Asian American Solidarity Toolkit: A Guide to Resisting Detentions and Deportations from the #ReleaseMN8 Campaign.
This one-of-a-kind resource provides organizing, advocacy, and legal tools, tips, and resources to support families whose loved ones are facing detention and removal. Authored by impacted family members, campaign organizers, lawyers, and advocates, the toolkit offers insight into how a small Minnesota community inspired a nationwide movement to save its loved ones from deportation to Cambodia.
The #ReleaseMN8 campaign was created in 2016 when eight Cambodian men were abruptly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for immediate deportation. These lawful permanent residents, who came into the United States as refugee children and babies, were being deported for old criminal convictions for which they had already served their sentences.
Since 1998, more than 16,000 Southeast Asian immigrants have been issued orders of deportation, but less than 2,000 have been deported. Over 14,000 of these individuals are living in the U.S. in a state of limbo, uncertain of when ICE will once again try to detain them.1 Due to the unique post-war diplomatic relationships between the United States and Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, the deportation process to these countries generally takes longer compared to others. During that extended processing time, many community members transform their lives, buy homes, and start families and businesses, only to be detained years and even decades later for old offenses committed in their youth.
This toolkit comes at a time when fear among Southeast Asian American families is at an all-time high following US sanctions on Cambodia and Laos; the biggest Cambodian and Vietnamese detention roundup in 2017; and the biggest deportation of Cambodian immigrants on one flight in 2018.
“Our campaign was founded by the love we had for our families and for our community,” said #ReleaseMN8 campaign organizer Jenny Srey, whose husband Ched was able to secure deportation relief. “We believe all families have the right to be together, and we want to remain engaged in this movement to support other families who are at risk of being ripped apart. Impacted families often want to fight for their loved ones but are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. We hope this guide helps families see that they have the power to organize and to fight for change.”
Julie Mao, attorney from NIPNLG, said, “This toolkit is the result of transformative community organizing by brave immigrants and families who refused to resign themselves to deportation. I hope the lessons learned during the #ReleaseMN8 campaign and distilled in this toolkit demonstrate that liberation is possible even under the Trump Administration, when communities organize, defend themselves, and work in collaboration with dedicated lawyering.”
Linus Chan, with the University of Minnesota James H. Binger Center of New Americans, said “I was lucky enough to witness up close the incredible work and advocacy of #ReleaseMN8. Their work in advocating and protecting their families provides a unique opportunity to not just provide an example of what is possible, but also to give concrete tips and tools from the people who have lived through the crises they seek to prevent. Their work is inspiring, but perhaps more importantly, their work can lead to concrete change.
“The #ReleaseMN8 campaign inspired many of us to be courageous, to hope, and to be bolder in our advocacy for legislative solutions to laws that fail to recognize the resilience, humanity, and restoration to which human beings are capable,” saidQuyen Dinh, executive director of SEARAC. “We are proud to have worked with the campaign and our other partners to offer a new resource that will hopefully inspire families to mobilize and fight for immigrant justice.
Click here to access the toolkit.
REFERENCE
1. Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, “U.S. Deportation Outcomes by Charge, Completed Cases in Immigration Courts”: http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/court_backlog/deport_outcome_charge.php & Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Statistics

Take Action

Sign this public statement denouncing unjust deportations in the Southeast Asian American community!

Dreams Detained, in her Words: The effects of detention and deportation on Southeast Asian American women and families

A joint report with National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum that tells the stories of Southeast Asian American women whose family members have experienced detention and deportation. Includes personal testimonies that discusses severe financial hardship and emotional distress as a result of the family separations that occurr when loved ones are detained and/or deported.

Click here to access.

 

 

 

Join Us: Civil Rights Groups to Launch Report on Detention and Deportation Effects on Southeast Asian American Families

WHAT: 

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Centerin conjunction with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, invite you to attend a briefing for Dreams Detained: In Her Words, the effects of detention and deportation on Southeast Asian American women and families. 


WHEN, WHERE, & WHO:

September 26, 2018
Senate briefing, coordinated with offices of Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Sen. Patty Murray
Senate Capitol Visitors Center (SVC), Room 215, 10-11 am EDT
Speakers
Sen. Tammy Duckworth
Jenny Srey, #ReleaseMN8
Janit Saechao, Portland, OR
Sophya Chum, Khmer Girls in Action
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Register Here

September 27, 2018
House briefing, coordinated with office of Rep. Judy Chu
Cannon House Office Building, Room 121, 10-11 am EDT
Speakers
Tina Meetran, Providence, RI
Montha Chum, #ReleaseMN8
Alisha Sim, Khmer Girls in Action
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Register Here

WHY:

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) collaborated on a joint report using a reproductive justice framework in which we interviewed women whose family members were detained or deported in order to capture their experiences of intergenerational trauma, grief and anxiety, financial hardship, and hope and resilience. These briefings are an opportunity to hear directly from Southeast Asian American women who have been impacted by family separation, hear some of the most pressing issues facing our communities today, and discuss policy principles.
Register here to attend.

Impending August Deportations to Cambodia Stoke Fear Among Southeast Asian American Families

Contact:
(202) 601-2970
elaine@searac.org

Among those suddenly targeted for removal is a father of two with an old conviction who has lived a peaceful life for years in Minnesota with his U.S. citizen family

Washington, DC – Following the biggest detention roundup of Cambodians in October 2017, and the biggest group to be deported in one flight just three months ago, the Southeast Asian American community once again awaits another round of removals to Cambodia next week. This reign of terror by the current Administration follows the aggressive sanctioning of Cambodia in 2017 to force its hand on more deportations. Because of these efforts, removals this year are estimated to double, stoking fear among many families.1

Among those targeted for removal this month are Chhoy Nuon of Savage, MN–a husband to a U.S. citizen and father to two U.S. citizen children, ages 11 and 14. Nuon came to the U.S. as a refugee from Cambodia at the age of 4. After initially resettling in California, his family moved to Oklahoma City, where he grew up in a low-income neighborhood plagued with poverty and gang violence. His family was poor, and his parents worked multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

As a teenager, Nuon was charged with armed burglary in 1997 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He served two and a half years with probation but was immediately detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after serving his time. Nuon spent almost three years in an ICE detention facility–longer than his actual incarceration for his crime. Upon release, he moved to Minnesota, where he met his wife, Betty Khakham. He supported Betty through college, got married, started a family, and bought a home together, where they have lived for more than 13 years.

ICE is in a hurry to deport beloved husband and father Chhoy Nuon (pictured left with wife Betty) before he gets to exercise his due process rights.

Nuon has not reoffended since committing his crime as a teenager more than two decades ago. He holds a steady job as a machinist, and is an active father in his children’s lives and a devoted husband to Betty. Nevertheless, ICE once again detained Nuon for deportation on April of this year, even though Nuon already has an active motion to reopen his case for possible deportation relief, pending approval with the Board of Immigration Appeals. His attorney has filed a stay of removal to request that his deportation be halted long enough for him to have his day in court. Nuon has been torn apart from his family for four months while detained in the Sherburne County detention facility.

Since 1998, more than 2,400 Cambodian immigrants have been issued orders of deportation-over 68% of them due to criminal convictions, compared to 29% of immigrants overall.[2] Due to the unique relationship between the Cambodian and U.S. governments, deportations to Cambodia have been slower compared to other countries. However, an uptick in this trend is likely to occur after the Administration issued visa sanctions to expand removals. To date, more than 880 Cambodians have been deported and close to 1,600 more remain in limbo.

“Like many Southeast Asian refugees, Chhoy came to the United States as a young boy fleeing unspeakable violence,” said Katrina Dizon Mariategue, Director of National Policy at SEARAC.

“While he committed a mistake two decades ago in his youth, he has since turned his life around, contributing to society as a model citizen and supporting a U.S. citizen family. We stand in support of Chhoy’s simple request to stay in the country long enough to exercise his due process rights. Additionally, we condemn this Administration for its continued effort to tear Southeast Asian American families apart and inflict further trauma on our community’s brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and children, through indiscriminate deportation. We call on our congressional leaders to speak out publicly against this ongoing injustice and reexamine the harsh laws that allow for the mandatory removal of refugees to continue.”

Chhoy (pictured seated at left) with his wife, children, and members of their extended family

 

Take Action: Tell your Member of Congress to stand with the Southeast Asian American community

1. Contact your Congressional leaders today.

2. Here’s what you can say:

“My name is ____ from (city, state). I am calling Representative/Senator (name) to express concern over the ongoing deportations of Southeast Asian lawful permanent residents for old criminal convictions. Many of these community members came to the U.S. as refugee children and babies and actively support U.S. citizen families after serving their time. They deserve justice and a second chance. The current Administration continues to pressure Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam to accept the deportation of these refugees. Deportations to Cambodia are scheduled for next week with more removals likely to happen in 2018. Would you be willing to issue a statement in to oppose the deportation of our community members?”

(If they answer ‘Yes’ or ask for more information, direct them to SEARAC Director of National Policy Katrina Dizon Mariategue at katrina@searac.org.)

3. You can also use SEARAC’s Messaging Guide on Southeast Asian American Criminal Deportation as a resource.

Note to impacted community members:

If you or someone you know is facing deportation, our partners at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus have created SEAraids.org, a website that houses important information and resources for Southeast Asian Americans with final removal orders.

REFERENCES

1. Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, “U.S. Deportation Outcomes by Charge, Completed Cases in Immigration Courts”: http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/court_backlog/deport_outcome_charge.php & Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Statistics

2. “Cambodian Deportations to Begin,” https://www.searac.org/our-voices/press-room/press-release-cambodian-deportations-begin/

SEARAC Denounces Visa Sanctions against Laos and Myanmar 

Community members who have deportation orders should seek legal counsel immediately
SEARAC denounces the Trump Administration’s shameful tactic of suspending visas from Laos and Myanmar (also known as Burma) to punish the countries for delaying deportations from the United States. The Administration’s latest actions continue its relentless attacks against immigrants, especially underrepresented immigrants of color.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) justifies this policy shift by emphasizing the potential release of those with criminal convictions due to their inability to deport from the United States. What DHS fails to mention is that a majority of these community members are lawful permanent residents who came into the country as refugees, and have already served their time in prison for old convictions, transformed their lives, contribute to their communities, and now support U.S. citizen families. This misguided and false guise of national security does nothing more than to fuel an anti-immigrant agenda determined to keep families separated.

Since 1998, 4,568 individuals have been issued deportation orders to Laos. Of that number, there have been a total of 206 deportations, with 4,362 still waiting in limbo.1,2 As the only Southeast Asian American country with no repatriation agreement with the United States in place, Laos has been able to keep its deportation numbers relatively low, compared to Vietnam and Cambodia. As a result, thousands of Lao and Hmong community members with deportation orders have lived in the country for decades-many rebuilding their lives post-incarceration. However, these visa sanctions have the potential to shift the deportation landscape drastically for Lao and Hmong community members with deportation orders. Last year, the United States sanctioned Cambodia, which led to the biggest mass roundup of Cambodians for detention. Deportations to Cambodia are rumored to double this year.

“Our community members are still healing from the trauma of having survived one of the worst genocides of the 20th century,” says Quyen Dinh, executive director of SEARAC. “Instead of re-traumatizing them, our elected leaders should instead work toward building our communities and economy up, not tearing them both down. We must invest our resources in uniting around humane, long-lasting solutions that prioritize peace. We call on our Congressional leaders to stand with us to protect vulnerable families and denounce these sanctions.”

Although it is too soon to tell how Laos will react to these new threats, we encourage community members who have deportation orders to seek legal counsel immediately.

Knowing your legal options of relief prior to detention will help you and your family create an emergency preparedness plan of action to help ease the effects of possible separation.  Please refer to the below resources for more help:

Take Action: Members of Congress Need to Hear From YOU

1. Contact your Congressional leaders today.

2. Here’s what you can say:

“My name is ____ from (city, state). I am calling Representative/Senator (name) to denounce the Trump Administration’s move to pressure Laos into accepting deportees through issuing visa sanctions. This policy will tear families apart and destabilize communities like ours by ignoring the humanitarian implications of deporting refugees. It is important for Congress to weigh in on this. Would you be willing to issue a statement in opposition to this effort by the Trump Administration and to stand in solidarity with the Lao and Hmong community?

(If they answer ‘Yes’ or ask for more information, direct them to SEARAC Director of National Policy Katrina Dizon Mariategue at katrina@searac.org.)

3. You can also use SEARAC’s Talking Points on Laotian visa sanctions.

REFERENCES

1. Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, U.S. Deportation Outcomes by Charge, Completed Cases in Immigration Courts, Available at:
http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/court_backlog/deport_outcome_charge.php.

2. Department of Homeland Security, “Yearbook of Immigration Statistics,” Available at: https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/yearbook.

Contact: 
Katrina Dizon Mariategue
(202) 601-2968

Resource Guide for Southeast Asian Americans Facing Criminal Deportation

An in-depth guide focusing on how to navigate the detention and deportation system for Southeast Asian American immigrants who have criminal convictions that triggered their deportation proceedings. Also includes a directory of university immigration law clinics that provide pro bono services, attorneys with specialized knowledge of SEAA deportation issues, and SEAA organizations that can provide support.

Click here to access.